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Stroke Statistics & Risk Factors

Stroke Statistics - Time is Brain

  • Every 45 seconds someone in the United States suffers a stroke. More than 750,000 people are affected every year.
  • Stroke is the number one cause of disability in the United States.
  • Someone dies from a stroke every 3 minutes, making stroke the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Strokes can affect people at any age. Twenty-five percent of strokes each year occur in people under the age of 65.
  • Stroke kills more women each year than breast cancer.
  • This year, more than 100,000 U.S. women under 65 will have a stroke.
  • About 25 percent of people who recover from their first stroke will have another stroke within five years.
  • Studies show that 80% of strokes are preventable.
  • If appropriate medical care is received within the first 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms, the impact of the stroke can be minimized.
  • Fewer than one of every 20 stroke victims seeks appropriate medical treatment in time.
  • With interventions at comprehensive stroke centers within 8 hours of the onset of symptoms  the impact of the stroke can be minimized.

Understanding the Risk

Understanding the factors that increase your risk of a stroke and recognizing the symptoms may help you prevent a stroke. Although they are more common in older adults, strokes can occur at any age. Risk factors are cumulative. Reducing even one risk can greatly lower your chances of having a stroke.

Take Our Stroke Risk Assessment

Controllable or treatable risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure (uncontrolled):  Blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is the most important risk factor for stroke. It usually has no specific symptoms and no early warning signs. That's why it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Controlling your blood pressure is crucial to stroke prevention.
  • Smoking:  Decrease your risk by quitting smoking. Your risk may be increased further if you use some forms of oral contraceptives and are a smoker. There is recent evidence that long-term secondhand smoke exposure may increase your risk of stroke.
  • Know your numbers:  It is crucial to control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index. All of these can contribute to your risk of stroke.  See your physician for a complete physical.
  • Carotid or other artery disease:  The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery narrowed by fatty deposits from atherosclerosis (plaque buildups in artery walls) may become blocked by a blood clot. Carotid arteries are treated by neurosurgeons through a procedure in which an incision is made in the neck and plaque is removed from the artery.
  • History of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs ):  About 30 percent of stroke patients have a history of TIAs. Common temporary symptoms include difficulty speaking or understanding others, loss or blurring of vision in one eye, and loss of strength or numbness in an arm or leg. Usually these symptoms resolve in less than 10 to 20 minutes, and almost always within one hour. Even if all the symptoms resolve, it is very important that anyone experiencing these symptoms call 911 and immediately be evaluated by a qualified physician.
  • Diabetes:  It is crucial to control your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Diabetes, especially when untreated, puts you at greater risk of stroke and has many other serious health implications.
  • High blood cholesterol:  A high level of total cholesterol in the blood (240 mg/dL or higher) is a major risk factor for heart disease, which raises your risk of stroke. You can often improve your cholesterol levels by decreasing the salt and saturated fat in your diet. However, some people inherit genes associated with elevated levels of cholesterol. Although they may eat well and exercise, they still may have high cholesterol, and must take medication to control it.
  • Physical inactivity and obesity:  Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week can help reduce your risk of stroke. Check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program if you have any health problems or have been inactive.

Risk factors for stroke that are especially important for women under 55.

  • Migraines: Recent research shows that women who suffer from migraines with aura (visual disturbances such as flashing dots or blind spots) can be up to 10 times more likely to suffer a stroke, depending on other risk factors.
  • Birth Control Pills: Women who take even a low-estrogen birth control pill may be twice as likely to have a stroke than those who don’t and the risk may increase if other risk factors are present.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: Women who take hormone replacement therapy may have a slightly increased stroke risk.
  • Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes or lupus can increase the risk of stroke.
  • Clotting Disorders: Women who’ve had more than one miscarriage may be at higher risk for blood clots, which can increase their chance of a stroke. Other signs of a possible clotting disorder can include previous history of clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and livedo reticularis, a mottled purplish discoloration of the skin.

Uncontrollable risk factors include:

  • Age:  People of all ages, including children, have strokes. But the older you are, the greater your risk of stroke. 
  • Gender:  Stroke is more common in men than in women. However, women account for more than half of all stroke deaths. Women who are pregnant have a higher stroke risk. Some research has indicated that women may experience and interpret stroke symptoms differently than men, causing them to delay seeking medical care, and contributing to their higher stroke mortality rates.
  • Heredity and race:  You have a greater risk of stroke if a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke. African Americans have a much higher risk of death from a stroke than Caucasians do, partly because they may be more prone to having high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
  • Prior stroke or heart attack:  If you have had a stroke, you are at much higher risk of having another one. If you have had a heart attack, you are also at higher risk of having a stroke.


Take Our Stroke Risk Assessment

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